Microsoft’s Hybrid Advocacy: Tablets Alone Don’t Cut It

CNet’s Brooke Crothers reports that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer pitched upcoming “2-in-1” devices hard Wednesday at the Build Conference, a portion of his presentation mocking the dedicated tablet experience.

Crothers cites Ballmer commenting:

“How many of us have gone to a meeting with somebody who brought a tablet and then when it comes time to actually take notes, writes them down on pencil and paper. Or can’t get at the spreadsheet…or try to use it in terminal emulator mode…or take [a long time] to set up and turn their tablet into something that approximates a PC?”

That statement, says Crothers, encapsulates the sales pitch for Windows 8/8.1 hybrids, aka 2-in-1 devices, convertibles, and detachables. You only need one hybrid device, not both a tablet and a laptop, an advantage Windows 8.1 (and past Windows 8) devices like Microsoft’s own Surface Pro and Lenovo’s ThinkPad Helix have over Apple and Android tablets.

The Helix Ballmer used in his demo weighs two pounds), has a mainstream Core i7 processor, a built-in pen, claimed “full-day” battery life, and a peripheral keyboard (with extra integrated battery), thus serving as both a “powerful PC” and “powerful, capable… tablet.”

Another big advantage Windows 8.1 hybrids have over the iPad at least as a content creation platform was profiled this week by LAPTOP Mag’s Online Editorial Director Avram Piltch who notes ( that with Windows 8.1, you can show two or more full-sized apps at a time in Modern UI on a Surface Pro, or in desktop mode split the screen up between as many windows as you want, even if they are all on top of each other, neither of which is possible with the iPad’s so-called “multitasking.”

Being an iPad and MacBook user, I have to agree with Mr. Ballmer’s point in principle. However, the overall Apple user experience isn’t a quality one gives up lightly, and I’m skeptical that Windows 8.1 compatible hardware can match Apple devices’ battery life.

Brooke Crothers’ report is here:

See our price trackers for up-to-date Apple prices